New topics abound at GLEXPO education sessions By Jess Schmidt, contributing writer

A few hot topics come to mind when it comes to greenhouses. In the last year, updates on insect and disease management have moved to the forefront. Mixing sprays for efficacy, pH and EC management, and wood fiber substrates are also popular topics, and the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market Expo & Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO is recognizing these important issues by offering education sessions specifically geared towards greenhouse growers on these topics and others.

Heidi Lindberg, a greenhouse and nursery extension educator at Michigan State University Extension, shares what greenhouse growers can expect to learn at this year’s GLEXPO in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“This is the show outside of Cultivate. It’s draws a large regional audience and even commands a national audience. Greenhouse growers can attend 15 sessions about current issues greenhouse growers are seeing in their own systems. If that is not enough, attendees will also have downtime during which they can explore Beer City USA, Grand Rapids.”

There are a few other sessions greenhouse growers need to add to their schedules. Greenhouse Trends and Challenges has been the most popular session in recent years. It consists of a 90-minute overview of the issues Michigan greenhouse growers have faced in the most recent growing season and will also cover trends in wholesale and retail production environments. Lindberg and two of her field-based greenhouse colleagues will offer solutions to past challenges and ideas for the future. “It’s a great chance to showcase what’s happening in the third-largest ornamental horticulture production state to a regional and national audience.”

The sessions revolving around technology are also a can’t-miss. The technology boom has reached greenhouse growers as they seek to produce plants with greater efficiency and quality. Greenhouse Gadgets features apps and monitoring tools that are useful to greenhouse growers. Lighting is also changing in ways that enhance the growing environment. Using the correct fixture, bulb type and light color helps optimize growing, and the session about lighting fixtures will inform growers how they can learn to evaluate the lamps on the market in order to choose the best for each production environment.

Besides these hot-button issues for the industry, greenhouse growers can explore a trend that has been taking Michigan-growers by storm: wood fiber substrates and the continual improvement of managing pH and EC in the greenhouse environment to assure the best quality products. Dr. Brian Jackson from North Carolina State and W. Garrett Owen from Michigan State University will discuss pH and EC issues when growing crops in a greenhouse. Another intestesting session on is on the relatively new worker protection standards. This will include what you can expect during an inspection, a talk about complying with new regulations with Julie Yocum from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Growers can also attend the fruit and vegetable sessions while at the Greenhouse EXPO,” Lindberg said. “The greenhouse vegetable tract, general sessions, worker protection and health for farmers, including two mobile health units for medical testing for compliance with worker protection standards are also available.” If greenhouse growers can only attend one day of the show, Lindberg recommended two different days based on the grower’s specific needs. For wholesalers, Dec. 4 would be optimal — sessions will cover pest and disease management, nutrition and an update from Michigan grower-sponsored research trials at Michigan State. For garden centers and resellers, Wednesday, Dec. 5, would be ideal. Dr. Bridget Behe will teach two sessions about reaching younger demographics and also gaining them as customers in the garden center. In between her two talks, you will hear about Secrets of Success of retail garden centers from a panel of four garden center owners in Michigan.

Lindberg will be speaking about greenhouse energy efficiency on Tuesday, greenhouse trends on Wednesday, and moderating the Michigan garden center retail session. “Be sure to register early for the early bird discount,” she said.

The good news is that this is not an exhaustive list of the education that GLEXPO is bringing to the show this year. The full schedule is available on

Registration opened Oct. 1 for this year’s GLEXPO. Register at

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